Artist Statement

 

          A quote from Robert Frost expresses much of my feelings about realist painting “ There are two types of realists. There is the one who offers a good deal of dirt with his potato to show it is a potato and there is the one who is satisfied with his potato brushed clean. I am inclined to be the second kind. To me the thing that art does to life is to clean it, to strip it to form”. 

           I have focused for some time on paintings that are simply memories of qualities of the prairie landscape that I grew to love through the slow and gradual process of having grown up in and worked in as a geologist in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. I came to value this landscape with a much greater intensity after having left. I return once or twice a year to visit family, take photographs and do sketches. It is a part of the country that is spare, quiet and infinitely dynamic, beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. The way the horizon is blocked only by the curvature of the earth, or the way sky and weather can dominate space, a simple drifting cloud and shadow, or grasshoppers scattering before boots in deep grass, a tree can stand utterly alone on the high plains or light from a distant town might reflect on low stratus clouds at night from miles and miles away all take on a unique emphasis on the plains. These are some of the mysterious and fascinating things I have sought to record.

           I have also been working on drawings concurrently. These are in contrast to the paintings and are reflections of elements of Bergen County, New Jersey’s tightly packed, crowded suburban local domestic world and its occupants as well as their imprint on it.

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all images copyrighted Karl Hartman